lori vrba – safekeeping

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Lori Vrba


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Safekeeping: the act of keeping safe or the state of being kept safe; protection; care; custody.

I’ve spent the last year exploring the desire to protect that which is, or is perceived to be, vulnerable or sacred. As a mother to three young children I am present not only to the maternal urge to lock away the sensuality of a young girl or the exposed emotions of an adolescent boy, but also that they, like all humans, have feelings, secrets, treasures, and relationships that are for safekeeping. Innocence, love, memories… even the earth itself is vulnerable. With this project, I am examining what we want to protect, how we do that and when it is simply impossible. I love exploring this idea with the camera, given that a photograph is, in and of itself, safekeeping: holding a parcel of time.

I work in medium format black and white film, which I process myself.  I print each image in a traditional wet darkroom on 16X20 fibre based paper, which I then tone in tea and selenium.


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Lori Vrba

79 Responses to “lori vrba – safekeeping”

  • 9 10 13 14 18 Stunning. I like your factual statement about how you process and print your work. There is sincerity in your images as well in the way you communicate the method in which you work. Beautiful.

  • A classic Victorian mythical experience. So pre Raphaelit. Love it!

  • whoa! today is looking up!
    thank you for the kind words. this project has been deeply personal and one of the first that i have seriously committed to. it is wonderful to have it well received.

  • stunning.
    almost magical.
    i detect warmth in these images but also at times a subtle sadness, as if the subject’s/or your preciousness is to be taken away.
    i really enjoyed this piece! thanks!

  • There are some really beautiful images here. Nicely done!

  • Very good images. Very well done. I’m not sure many of them convey “safe” to me, but there is no question these are excellent fine-art photos. Enjoyed the essay.

  • hey jim…you are right…i’m not always looking to convey what is safe. sometimes i’m attempting to convey vulnerability, or a memory of my own or loss. i can see that not everyone will read every image in the same way i do. its interesting!

  • lori

    brilliant.. three children and still using the darkroom.. busy busy busy and finding time for the slowest of processes..

  • lori, yes. I guess it is vulnerability rather than safety that I see. Either way, very well done!

  • Magical,

    Lori your images shine like precious jewels. Your passion is evident in every image. I just love your outlook on life too.

    A breath of fresh air to me…..

  • Lori- these pictures put me in a safe, magical place, where the pressures and realities of the outside world don’t matter…scenes from Chronicles of Narnia and other childhood stories come to mind. Thanks for doing this “work,” if that’s even an appropriate term.

    I assume you create most of these scenes? Are any of them documentary moments?

    The only thing is (and this is more for DAH) I can’t see the whole picture on my screen at once. I’m on a decent size laptop with standard resolution…I agree with displaying images large, but does displaying them too large defeat the purpose a bit? Now I wish I could afford a new desktop!

  • Richly textured, beautifully composed, well conceived poetry with a camera… and a light and fleeting touch, unusual with medium format, that suggests ephemerality even more than the subject matter. My hat is off to you, Lori.

  • I admire photographers that do their own printing… especially in a wet darkroom. To me, it’s part of the picture taking process. Don’t drink the tea though.

  • Some stunning stuff there.

  • for danny who asked if any of these were documentary moments…

    i rarely have the exact image in my mind and then go out and get it. but it starts with an idea and i get to the location and since i’m often shooting children…cool stuff happens. if i just place them within the area i want to work…i just have to watch and be ready.

    there are images such as “Butterfly” where i set it up and shot exactly what i had hoped for.

    again…thanks to everyone for the warm reception.

  • jewels..
    yes all of it!
    I would love to see
    what you would shoot with
    your teenage son….
    how would you capture those teenage years??
    barbed wire fences

  • ha! yes, a 13 year old boy is my new challenge. he is in the shot of the boy holding up the world. but this summer i’m hoping to turn the camera to him and see what i can get.

  • Having actually held these prints in my hand, it is wonderful to read this praise for Lori’s work. I think her work is a dream. She sometimes thinks those of us who love her are deluded. You can’t know how much your review and comment on her work means to her. Thanks for showing up and please pass it on.

  • Beautiful light, beautiful tonalities, beautiful photography.
    My favorites are 3, 4, 9, 11, 17 and 20.


  • Just really lovely imagery. Nothing more to say really. Just lovely.


  • I really appreciate the craft that shines through these images; they are magical vignettes…

    A you say, interesting to compare how they ‘speak’ to us; I’m not sensing ‘safety’ or ‘vulnerability’ but, for reasons I can’t rationalise, I feel ‘loss’ as I look at them. Beautiful…


  • Lori, Wow. With Ray LaMontagne playing in the background as I viewed this … wow, perfect. I’ve often wondered how would you interpret the soul of his work visually? Now I know. Such a sweet tender pathos of life to it all, as if there is an awareness that these beautiful moments are fleeting and there is joy in the moment but a consciousness of the place in the world and time as well. Trying to verbalize what cannot be is the best in photography … and this just does that so well. Deliberate and not staged at the same time. Just brilliant. You are a great artist. This reminds me much of Angela Bacon-Kidwell’s work seen here but different.

    Lori, I know a loft in New York where these would look brilliant someday and while Mr. Harvey is of course the arbiter of all such things, I do hope you will support Burn by submitting this work for his new gallery. Maybe he has not committed to this brilliant idea of his completely but he really must. Was that too direct? Apologies … but this is so, so good.

  • Friend,
    In all our years, we couldn’t begin to count the times we have looked up at each other to say, “can you believe how beautiful this is?” And now your crazy magic box with a hole in it provides the proof.
    I’ll leave the technical review to the pros and say that I am absolutely bursting with pride for you.
    Congratulations on this beautifully done project.

  • young tom…i would of course contribute to harvey’s brilliant idea. i hope it all comes together.

    funny you were listening to lamontagne. i just recently discovered him and LOVE his music.

    to you and everyone here who has commented…it is so heartwarming to know that this project is understood. it is ongoing…but i, like most artists, get stuck or doubtful. to know that there is value not only in the effort, but the actual images…its a powerful thing to pull from.

  • Or I meant to say … this visualizes what cannot be verbalized … okay, still awkward but perhaps you know what I mean :))

  • Some beautiful images, though not really my thing.

    I wish I could still print in a darkroom but after thirty years of crappy closets I came to the conclusion that I had thoroughly poisoned myself (my wife said when she met me my skin was gray) I sold a state of the art set up with sadness and will probably never go back.

    So I salute you on your craft – just be sure to play it safe for your and your children’s sake. I highly recommend the use of a respirator, esp when toning no matter how good of ventilation you have. I really do miss printing though and am so glad to see it here.

    All the best,


  • * 3 is wicked ……

  • amazing images… i loved this..

  • Lori,

    Wonderful photos! I agree with Young Tom – when I saw your essay I was reminded of Angela Bacon-Kidwell’s Traveling Dream essay. The very best to you.

  • I too am a big fan of Angela’s work. We just discovered each other a couple of months ago and keep in touch. I’m flattered by the comparison.

  • Beautiful work Lori. I absolutely love #1! I also really like 6 15 and 18. I like the ones that have a Sally Mann-esk (if thats how you say it) quality to them. For me they do anyway.

  • hi lori,

    i have been a BURNer for only a few months and a newbie to photography. will never make it as a photographer i think because i am too impatient.
    i come to BURN because i need to write. (i write on the comments of course) most of what i write though i keep to myself. prompts are what i look for especially when i am feeling down and despondent but also when i am happy and manic – well i guess that is all the time.

    you have provided me with — hmm, a shot in the arm especially today when i needed it the most.
    thank you for the inspiration… well thanks to angela kidwell-bacon too. i wrote about her pictures too. with her essay, i felt angst. i still was drawn to her images. with yours, i felt tender angst but more on the comfort side of the spectrum.

    vulnerability especially in our young ones is always precious. we ourselves are still vulnerable but as adults we have to fend for ourselves now and in the process have gotten burned more than once in a while, we turn cynical once in awhile for self protection. but i feel so much responsibility for my own children as such this has decided who i am now, i am not too risky anymore, not impulsive, less selfish, not too nonchalant, a lot more sympathetic, empathetic and but watchful still.

    your essay has given me hope and as a sequence to uganda the previous essay, this is quite apt to just yank me towards salvation.

  • Delicate and beautiful!

  • Lovely photographs. As a young photographer (well, early 20s young..) I look forward to the time in my life where emotion and love and the acceptance of vulnerability flow more flawlessly into my work. This essay is mature and realized.


    “The power of the mind is only as great as its expression and its depth only as deep as it dares to extend itself in its exposition and loses itself.”–Hegel

    And though we negotiate the world through our senses and reason and intellect, it is through our imagination, that lass-bucket drop plunging into the well to retrieve back the muck and shadow and scatter web and water sustenance, that we begin to make way and make place inside the woody forest of this world. What I love best about Lori’s work, as photographer, as editor, as viewer, as simple dreamer, is the richness of her fecund imagination. That is: the dreaming, pitched mother who has gather the bones and sticks and pebbled-places of her children’s lives, and through the net of seeing, set them free. As parents we set aside ourselves the goal of protection and safety, though we know it is a ruse. We dream the dreams of our children, for we know that they are scattering far afield from us, that they are branching out long-wide our sheltered twilight of seeing. For they are the seekers, and we, if we are fortunate, the ones who shall be bequeathed their sought-out discoveries. This world, a firmament not only of dreams, but about the that we, as adults, have that someone, though our bodies are tapped and wearied, we can rum-run that which our children so easily alight upon: the spreading the world’s nimble fingers and unstuck thoughts, rick, rap, rattled.

    A cousin to both Mann’s Immediate Family work and Bacon-Kidwell’s maps and dreams, Lori has set upon a different kind of diary and map-making. To set, beneath a canopy of flora and fauna and fever, her own nimble negotiation clockwork dream……found in the musical chambers of these children’s live and bodies and ticking…

    lovely work…and I am thankful and happy Lori has shared her work with us…


    p.s. Now, running, to get back to the burning-behind-the-Burn-scenes…and Monsieur Amigo Dah. :))..

  • Lori, great work!! Pacience :-) I really like it. A vision like Sally Mann and her family, not far from that… Deep portraits. That is photography!


  • Original and very poetic work, Lori. I like the dreamy and mystic quality of your photos and the care with which you do them. The one with the wedding dress #16 is one of my favorites. Bravo!

  • Lori, they’re beautiful pictures. 3, 5, and 8 are the ones I like the most.

  • Beautiful stuff. Love love love #12.

    Almost makes me want to dust off the medium format stuff and set the darkroom back up…..well, maybe when I retire.

    Gordon L.

  • I don’t think any one focused body of work (mine I’m speaking of), has been seen by so many photographers. The feedback is tremendously helpful and gratifying. I always hope that my photographs are universal and that the viewer can see more than just the portrait. This day of “hit-refresh-hit-refresh” has been a freaking blast. Thank you burn.

  • Lori,

    This is a powerful and personal body of work to be proud of…I watched the slide show immediately again and was as amazed as the first time around. The feeling and emotion is almost palpable, some truly magic moments…Technically speaking, your sense of light and strong composition really make your sentiment come alive. The wonderful thing is that you have years in which to develop this further…this is just the beginning…I look forward to seeing this (and your children) grow…

  • Very proud of my wife and her work.

  • good stuff lori – i’m sure you already have, but i would urge you to look at Ralph Eugene Meatyard, and Dan Winter’s portraits of his son (hard to find online, but there is a back issue of “stop smiling” magazine (its a photography edition featuring an interview with william eggleston) that has several frames.

    also, kind of more f+cked up and experimental, but Roger Ballen might be worth a look-see as well.



  • Lori, I don’t want to read anyone else’s comments. To be honest, I don’t care what they think. Not about your work, that is. I want to stay cuddled within my own innerness and try to speak of what you’ve touched in me. A sense of wonder, of mystery. Innocence and apprehension. Questions with no need for answers. That place within my child self that hides from adults because they’ll make fun of her. Lightning bugs in a jar and the croak of frogs at night. Dreams of flying with feathered wings.

    You have tapped into a realm half remembered and all I can say is go deeper, ever deeper. Don’t stop now and don’t worry about what anyone about your work. Not even me. You know who you are and what you need to say. Just say it and say it and say it…


  • very strong work, beautiful images, quite moving, but perhaps a bit too reminiscent of sally man, jock sturges, andrea modica….

  • Oh my god… I am mesmerized by your square…
    upon these images, I glaze over in stare
    absolute beauty, hold the earth close
    artful images to which I’m betrothed…
    you know me already, having pierced my soul…
    my thoughts and fears tucked into this bowl…

    and then you hand it to me…

    gingerly and with love,
    from sea to see, there you stand, yielding the key…
    sharing our mutual vulnerability…

  • ah poetry… inspired
    i am home

  • Yes, Gracie…I knew it would escape me on one of these threads…
    inspired, true :)

  • I join brian above.

    Also technicals could be much improved. Which is in my eyes in these kind of pictures necessary.

    But dont get me wrong, overall very good work!

  • Dietmar,

    technicals could be MUCH improved? Interesting, I don’t agree. As far as the other criticism, I think you could level that charge against anyone, and overall it is a bogus thing to say.

  • I’m not big on artist statements. I only write them because it is required. But since many of you have been so generous with your thoughts regarding this project, I feel compelled to speak honestly here about this work.
    There is a forest within walking distance of my home where I go nearly every day. It is the place where I get centered, focused, inspired. I began this project there under the title “Where God Lives.” I had been shooting there for a few months when I began to look deeper at what was driving me to do it. It wasn’t the woods. It was the feeling I had there. It was the awareness that for me, having grown up in an unsafe place, now within my adult life, that raw, exposed vulnerability is always with me. I see most everything and everyone that I care deeply about through that filter. To love anything feels too risky. But I do it anyway, knowing that there are some things I can protect and some that I cannot. Of course my own children keep me present to this constant pull…What does one give? What does one guard? What is safe? When is it worth the risk to care deeply for anything? Well, what is the alternative? To live a full, meaningful life, I have to, in spite of that raw fear, love anyway. What I know to be sacred, I am driven to protect even if I know it’s futile.
    So there. The guts of myself and my project exposed here on BURN. Thank you all for allowing me to see this work with fresh eyes. I had lost objectivity and questioned its worth. You’ve given me a powerful jolt that will fuel me for a good long while.

    -lori vrba

  • Oh, and to Brian Shumway…seeing my images as too similiar to those of Mann, Sturges, Modica…I admire and respect their work. I would never attempt to copy them. (or be so arrogant to think that I could)
    I shoot within a vibe, aesthetic, and feel that works for me. I don’t know how else to do it. But thank you for your honesty.

  • A highly evocative essay. I felt a certain sense of nostalgia for past events and places that I have never experienced let alone visited. In a strange way, I feel as if I have seen these images in a past life.

    Some people made some comparisons to Sally Mann. However I feel that this work is more detached and I don’t mean this in negative way. Sally Mann’s work seems more personal and consequently I can relate to Lori’s work more emotinally, because it evokes a more universal feel. This could be to do with the distance to the subject in a lot of the photographs or alternatively the obscured faces.

    The opening photograph actually feels quite disturbing because I’m now having visions of that movie ‘The Ring’- the girl with her head lowered. I love cinema and this essay seems to also pay homage to both old movie direction as well as contemporary cinema.

    I wish you well Lori and I hope that you keep producing beautiful work in the future.


  • BB, where do you find such lovely words….?!
    I mean, seriously, teach me.

  • rafal, how could it be bogus when if i didn’t know these pictures were taken by lori, i would have thought they (not all of them) were taken by one or another of the photogs i mentioned? several seem to me to be the spitting image, e.g. 1, 4, 13, 15, 19. as i said, the work is beautiful and i think technically very good, just a bit too obviously derivative, which is different than simply being influenced by someone. doesn’t mean that she’s not a great photog and that the photos aren’t moving. but bogus? i don’t think so.

  • hi lori, not saying your consciously ‘copying’ them. don’t think you are. there are some amazing pictures in there, just very akin to theirs, so much so that i could easily confuse yours and theirs, as i say above. it seems to me to be part of a very tried and true art photography tradition….

  • Brian,

    The phrase “spitting image” concerns me somewhat because it implies that perhaps it was intentional on my part. I looked at which specific images you felt were lifted from work that had been done by others and was surprised. Each of those photographs came from an honest place in me. I had not seen them before. I was not trying to put my own spin on someone else’s idea.
    I would probably stop shooting all together if I was bogged down with the thought of “Its all been done before.” It has. But that shouldn’t stop me from expressing myself with photography.

  • breath..breath… lovely and calm in here – concerntrating on the things worth preserving and taking a second glance at the everyday.
    thanks lori.

    i showed my students your work today as well as your business model for selling prints.. how you gain commissions through a unique and thoughtfull style.

    i guess we all had our favorites.. and admired the energy you must have to interact with dailylife – children – meanderings – social-life – mumblings – and still have time for the darkroom.

    it made the collective excuses of much less busy hands wither under-breath

  • haha! spitting image perhaps too strong. don’t want to argue, just throwing in my two cents. like i said you’re not consciously trying to replicate them. your work is very honest and heart-felt. guess i unintentionally opened a can of worms!

  • closing the worms up now…thanks.

  • This is absolutely beautiful. It takes me back to safe kept moments of my own childhood.

  • panos skoulidas

    hmmm… beautiful energy over here…………!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I’ll be honest, I’m not getting the “safekeeping”, but then again, I don’t care. These are beautiful, engrossing, warm and incredibly well-crafted. Although I don’t see the safekeeping, the sense that kept creeping in, was the feeling I used to have as a child, wrapping myself in a blanket as a thunderstorm crashed around outside. A feeling that I was keeping myself safe. Weird…maybe I do get it.

  • That being the case, sublime effort. You made your point without beating it over our heads.

  • Lori, I have watched your essay several times and it keeps drawing me in.

    I come from digital background in photography, I learnt photography using a digital camera, and have only shot digital so far in my short life. So I was wondering what inspires you to shoot on negative film as opposed to a digital file. Are you someone who has recently made that transition back to analogue from digital, or alternatively have you been a purely ‘film person’ all your life? Or, do you mix and match when convenient?

    I realise that these questions maybe seem second place compared to the content, but I’m interested in your photographic background and its subsequent influence on the technical side of this current project (I have previously commented on the astounding content/creativeness of your photographs). So, what drove you to have the information recorded on film?


  • I’m also interested in the question Johan ask’s Lori.
    I’m still using film. Never used a digital camera. Love film and the magic and ‘Surprise’ when i look through negatives. I must admit having the immediacy of digital sometimes would be helpful as far as analysing images along the process in taking them but..? What are your reasons in staying with film, if thats what you have chosen so to speak.
    Another point for me is i can’t afford to change camera’s which may also be the sole reason you’ve not changed.
    By the way, i see a lot of sincerity in your work, from the heart. REAL.. Which i feel is everything wether it be visual images or music or whatever..

  • for johan and peter…
    I’ve never shot digitally and won’t. I recognized very early on that part of what I loved about photography was the magic of the darkroom…watching an image come up in the tray. I like the excitement of rushing home to process the film…seeing if I really “got it.” I think the grain and subtleties of film are well suited for my style of work. And I really do not enjoy the computer. So I’m committed to film because the entire process plays a significant role in who I am as a photographer.

  • I’m always interested in this and ask the question of everyone who is committed to film photography. Should film become unavailable (or impossibly scarce or impossibly expensive), would you embrace digital or stop being a photographer? In my experience, most of them have said they would give up photography if they couldn’t use film. How do you feel about that?

  • i don’t think that will happen…but yes, i would be done. i love the entire experience of loading, wondering, processing, sleeving, contacting, printing and holding it in my hands. i cannot imagine losing any part of that and still loving it like i do.

  • Lori, that is what most folks committed to film say. It’s the process they enjoy. As a person who spent decades processing my stuff in a darkroom, I never liked darkroom work. But it was the only way to get to the image. It is really interesting that we (photographers) approach the craft in such different ways.

  • Very nice, very serene. I’m still not so good at formal critiques but these images are calming and intimate.

  • Hi Lori,

    there are a couple of things that make me curious about work like yours. First is the duality of the child as a human and also as a concept for all things becoming, all things possible, all things that are at first entirely innocent. The second natural curiosity to me is the maternal spirit, Since i’m a boy, i can only ponder it, i’ve seen it erupt in my partner in such a way that i felt i was meeting a new person for the first time after our son was born and although it felt like the roar of a steam train; it was also quite a beautiful force, for me it makes me understand better what it means to be a lioness with a cub.

    so seeing your opening image and reading your introduction i felt i was in store for a dose of child-life and some mystical maternal spirit. i have to mention these things because this is the lens i first see things through when introduced to an effort the way you introduced your work.

    without a doubt you have a very consistent, definite command of the media Lori; that hits me first. Then there is what i feel like i’m feeling from what your essay shows me, or a little bit of the lack of what i’m feeling from it. Both from your introduction and my own mentioned curiosities, i thought you would show some enchanted story of child-life or more so, ‘mood’ through the eyes of a lioness, but i felt more that i was shown just enchanting compositions through the eyes of a creative artist.

    maybe the hassy’s slow focus prevented more sudden framing decisions or maybe what i say next is exactly what you were going for, but for me the human in the image seems ‘almost’ always to be more of an ornament inside the frame lines than a child. In almost each of the images it seems like you had the child hold a position or a pose that was held for at least a second too long.

    i’ve gone back again and again through the essay; which is why i’ve taken so long to reply, looking more for the deliberate feel of a lioness and her cubs, but i didn’t really feel that either, the shots seem too cute, they seem more like models for hallmark cards, images that could be PC for everyone verses a surrender of something personal from your own personal experience.

    The last couple of times i forced myself to forget about your introduction and i also viewed everything of yours that i could find and also read your blog, basically keeping my mind as open as i could and let the information just wash over me. Without a doubt, i do feel beautiful, moody and well composed photographs, far from the realm of family photos, but also far from sensing what you were trying to say with your edit as i don’t see so much what you suggest and I don’t see something all that personal.

    i can only balance what i say from the fact that i see so much more of what you suggest in almost each and every one of the images in your Soul gallery. i think the images in your Soul gallery say all of those things you mention above albeit with varied actors, but also do so with drifty, whimsical, ambiguous questions marks that i think are a powerful force in this subject and an altogether powerful force for photographs in general. i guess the simple feeling i get from these images above are that they are ‘pretty’ statements with crisp periods at the end, and i have to wonder what they might feel like if the same compositions were delivered feeling less posed, less contrived, and ending more often with an ambiguous question mark.

    Best wishes, i would surely pay your fee for my son to be photographed by you, i’m certain it would someday be a family heirloom.


  • Joe,

    I appreciate your thoughtful critique. Its interesting for me to consider given what my experience has been shooting and editing this project. One of my favorite things about photographing children, especially my own (who are very comfortable with the camera), is that I can place them in a setting and then only have to watch and wait for a gesture or expression that speaks to what I’m after, in this case, my project. Often times, it is more than what I had hoped for…and others, something entirely different. When editing, I look for an image that expresses vulnerability, fear, sensuality, memory, innocence, sacredness, time, sadness…all of which are part of my Safekeeping concept. I always hope that my final edit will hold images that are accessible to the viewer. I’m not looking for images that are obviously pictures of my own children (taken by their mother). I want the image to rise above that of a portrait. Perhaps this translates (for you) into an impersonal feel. But to be clear, I rarely posed a child while shooting this project. I placed them in a space and let them go. Whatever happened organically, was always better than what I could have conjured up.
    I will seriously consider your critique. How does one make an image that is archetypal, accessible, metaphorical and it NOT be impersonal?

  • Beautiful Lori. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to stay in that world you created. I feel I’ve been there, now and then, and maybe forgotten about it, too many times. Anyway, bravo, I’m going to watch it again.


  • Hi again Lori,

    “I’m not looking for images that are obviously pictures of my own children (taken by their mother).”

    I’m glad, that is not what i was suggesting at all, so we are in agreement. My enthusiasm was more of the benefit of access to the subject; basically i was hoping i would see something revealed that only the trust, amount of time, and access a mother could make possible verses something a commissioned photographer could attempt to make possible.

    you did say something that made we want to write you again. You see, i don’t think there is a paradox in bringing to the surface the collective archetypes and at the same time bringing to the surface things deeply personal/individual. It’s as simple as understanding the whole will always equal the sum of its parts. But there is a paradox if you decide to invoke our primordial goo using ‘average’ collective messages. The average is the true paradox and in my personal opinion is public-enemy number-one with ‘moving’ communication. Yes, the average is a derivable term to describe any audience, but in actuality it describes no single human in that population, for example how many households really have 2.4 children? If you and your friends all want to go to a different restaurant, and you all compromise to make it fair, how many of you were actually fully pleased? Both of these questions show my disappointment in the concept of the ‘average’ and i think it’s the trap of universal communication having any real teeth.

    So to map this to your work Lori, first let’s leave my harsh ‘child-ornament’ comment to the side, let’s stick to the symbols, i feel you have used very traditional ‘average’ symbols that should work; well they don’t ‘not’ work, they fit the average, so they won’t offend, and they won’t cause miscommunication, but I don’t believe they will ever again invoke the power of the core collective; unfortunately those symbols lost their glitter long ago for even for the collective, basically no cognitive effort is now needed to reconcile them to their meaning, Butterflies and Wedding Dresses and Horses in Meadows, etc, are… well, I promised myself I wouldn’t use that word on Burn as it’s lazy, so i’ll go around that term and say they are symbols already exhaustively exploited and therefore have lost their cognitive glow. Evidence of this can be found in Deviant Art’s archives.

    So what’s the alternative? i only have a theory, but it maps back to the value of ‘just being yourself’, but do so to the point of feeling you are actually being eccentric. Ballen was mentioned already and i think most people would think this guy is off his rocker (I love him), but, has he not just drilled into our collective core and forced us all to reconcile all of our own individuality back to his communication? Most of us are actually invoked by Ballen, mere coincidence? i don’t think so.

    anyway, it’s a circular argument so maybe let me try to offer something concrete. You’ve mentioned some things that makes me think you might find it appealing to explore this book if you have not yet already: Archetypal Patterns in Fairy Tales by Marie-Louise Von Franz. MLvF does a great job in this book of mapping all of the elemental symbols back to the collective and it’s easy to see how hallmark has reinvented so many of them as butterflies and unicorns. For me, if you’re going to explore symbolic messaging verses expressing the collective through the recognisable relationship the children have with the subject they are experiencing (the opposite of ornaments), then starting here and mapping them to your own eccentricities would be a real treat to see.

    Again, Best Wishes Lori.


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